The Flluskë Story
Hello, and welcome to Flluskë
I'm Courtney! I'd love to share my story with you, so make yourself a cuppa and get comfy...
I’m an earring designer and hearing loss advocate.
But I wasn't always this confident about being deaf.
After my incredibly inclusive, supportive boss left his position to retire, and I had a new manager take his place, my work environment completely changed. I had gone from an office space of two people, including myself, to an ‘open plan’ setting of 5 people.
The constant chatting was distracting and made it impossible for me to hear important conversations with my work colleagues. I was unable to hear on the phone, which proved to be a huge problem because I was the receptionist for my department.
Communication between my boss and I was extremely poor - no matter how many times I very politely tried to educate my manager to face me while she was talking, so I could lip read her, she constantly forgot.
She’d give me instructions while talking with her mouth full when she ate her lunch at her desk. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying.
I was feeling completely frustrated, worthless and exhausted because my methods of trying to advocate for myself and what I needed were landing on ears that refused to listen.
The thing that made this even more hard to swallow was the fact that my manager was head of our department which looked after students with disabilities and learning difficulties. This was her specialised field of work, and she just didn’t care about making some minor adjustments so I could do my job properly.
I gathered up my courage and made an appointment with my H.R. Manager, optimistic and hopeful that if I opened up to him about my struggles, that he’d be able to help me.
I carefully explained to him my issues and how I was trying to rectify them. And explained to him that maybe I could run an information session on hearing loss for my immediate team, to help us work better together.
He listened to me, leaning back in his big chair, elbow propped up on his arm rest and chin resting in his hand. He said “People are nuffies Courtney. They won’t change, no matter what you do.”
I was floored. I thought “Did I hear him right?!” I couldn’t respond, I was stunned into silence.
He leaned forward “Well, lets have a think about this. We could probably get someone in to run a training session, but we won’t need to. Why don’t you print up a sign, to put at your desk, stating that you’re deaf? That would be a great reminder for everyone!”
I was absolutely disgusted at such a suggestion, and replied “I don’t think something like that is appropriate at all. I won’t do that!”
The meeting was quickly wrapped up and I was sent back to my office, with a promise to continue with our conversation another time.
I walked back to my office and sat at my desk.
“What the hell just happened in there?!” I thought to myself.
Meanwhile, things just didn’t improve. I kept reminding my manager to look at me while she was speaking. I started telling my work colleagues to be quiet when the phone rang and I had to answer it. My frustration and stress levels grew and I was feeling helpless because I didn’t know how to fix it. I met with my H.R. Manager again, with no results and only ridiculous suggestions.
The unexpected narrow mindedness and intolerance I faced was devastating, and I hit a very low point in my life.
In desperation, and one last attempt to try and fix things, I went to my union representative. She recommended I get in touch with a government agency who visit and do an assessment of my work area to recommend equipment and changes for my managers to implement.
After an assessment took place, by a woman with zero experience in hearing loss and who couldn’t even read my Audiogram from my Audiologist, a whole pile of equipment was recommended for me and I was left to my own devices. Not only did I not know how to use this equipment, it wasn’t even compatible with my hearing aid!
The tension between my H.R. Manager and I, and my immediate boss, was strained and tense. I dreaded going into work every day. I felt completely useless and inadequate. Even though I had always been excellent in my role, I felt completely incompetent and hated my disability.
I began to have tasks taken off me and wasn't included in meetings, which I'd always been required to attend.
I was ignored and my ideas were dismissed; regularly, subtly and with a smile so anyone observing wouldn't think anything was amiss. I felt it and it made me feel smaller and smaller.
I had a few weeks off, but had to find another job to support myself. I found an administrative position in a school with incredible staff, and a professional, supportive and encouraging boss. I enjoyed my new role, but my confidence was in pieces.
When I wore my new earrings, the bright colours made me stand taller and feel more confident.
I gradually began feeling a little more happier. People were noticing my earrings, and wanted some for themselves too. I began making them for my family and friends. One thing that they all said to me was “These earrings boost my mood Courtney! I love them so much.”
This is how flluskë came to be!
I now run my business on a full time basis and sell my earrings to people all over the world, helping to make women feel more confident and beautiful by tapping into the power of vibrant colour and design.
I regularly speak at female-focused events like Inspiring Young Women and Girls with Hammers and I’ve been described as the “role model you’d wished you had heard as a young woman”. I draw upon my past experiences of being bullied at school and experiencing discrimination in my workplace to help break stereotypes, shift negative attitudes and promote change in the community.
I believe that by being vulnerable and sharing my story, I can help others find the courage to change their own life path, even when they are thrown challenge after challenge.
I also believe everybody can learn how easy it is to include and confidently communicate with deaf and hearing impaired people.
If you want to put an end to the isolation and exclusion of large parts of the population, who can’t access the information they need, then let’s make it happen!
You can help do this by:
- Following me on Instagram or Facebook, to learn more about the things I share, so you can confidently make adjustments to your own communication style.
- When you buy & wear flluskë earrings, share the flluskë story with your family and friends, start a conversation around loving your ears and become a hearing loss advocate!
- Book me in to do a workshop at your place of work for your team and managers to help them understand the importance of providing an inclusive and accessible environment for their customers and staff. To see more of what I can offer, check out my Workshops.
I hope you love wearing your flluskë earrings just as much as I do. The magic of being able to hear everything in the world around you is something that should never be underestimated, so always remember to love your ears!
Thank you for being here with me and supporting my mission & journey.
Love & hugs,